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Toyota car store sold to Louisiana dealer

[04/24/01] After 20 years of operating an auto dealership in Vicksburg, Robert and Bobby Jo McConnell have sold their firm to a company with dealerships in Louisiana and south Mississippi.

The McConnells have operated what became Rivertown Toyota for 20 years, opening the business in 1981. For most of its existence, Rivertown was a Lincoln and Mercury dealership. Last year, that franchise was sold to Delta Ford. Rivertown had also been a local dealer for Jeep, Eagle and Hyundai.

The new dealership will be known as Hopkins Toyota, owned by the Hopkins Automotive Group of Ruston.

“We think they can take the car store to where it should be,” Robert McConnell said, adding he believes customers will see improvements in service, parts and other features of the dealership.

“We are just ready for a different phase in our lives,” he said of the decision he and his wife, who was also active in the business, made to sell.

Harold Hopkins, head of Hopkins Automotive Group, said he plans to remodel the inside of the building at 4105 E. Clay St., to repaint the exterior to match the Toyota’s national color scheme and to change the signage.

“We plan to do that as soon as we can get it scheduled,” Hopkins said.

After that, he said, the plans are to install systems that have been developed at his other dealerships for customer service, parts and vehicle repairs. He also said customers will soon be seeing a larger inventory of both new and used cars.

“We intend to increase the number of people in the sales department and in the service department. You will probably see an increase of 25 to 30 jobs over the next six months,” Hopkins said.

Hopkins owns Hopkins Chevrolet, Pontiac and Cadillac in Ruston, Hopkins Chevrolet-Oldsmobile in Bastrop and Hopkins GM Superstore in Picayune. He has been in the auto business for 25 years, starting off as a Ford dealer in Monroe and Alexandria.

His said his overall plans call for acquiring six or seven additional dealerships in Mississippi and Louisiana with at least one or two of those being in Mississippi within the next year.